Autopsy: Soldier found dead at Cape Lookout National Seashore was decapitated

Published 8:17 am Sunday, December 6, 2020

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An autopsy has found a Fort Bragg soldier reported missing and whose partial remains were found this summer at Cape Lookout National Seashore was decapitated.

The Raleigh News & Observer reports that Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez’s death was a homicide, but the cause of death remains undetermined because only his head was available for examination, according to the Division of Forensic Pathology at East Carolina University’s Brody School of Medicine.

“While decapitation is, in and of itself, universally fatal, the remainder of the body in this case was not available for examination, and therefore potential causes of death involving the torso and extremities cannot be excluded,” the report states.

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Among the findings: “Evidence of multiple chop injuries of the head” and a jaw broken in at least two places, the report says.

Roman-Martinez was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division. He was reported missing May 23, while on a Memorial Day weekend camping trip with friends at Cape Lookout National Seashore. Park rangers found Roman-Martinez’s partial remains washed ashore on Shackelford Banks the following weekend.


Several agencies participated in the search for Spc. Enrique Roman-Martinez. Courtesy NPS

A 10-day ground and aerial search took place beginning the day Roman-Martinez was reported missing. “Very few clues have been discovered during the search efforts,” stated a press release from Cape Lookout National Seashore at the time. “Depending on the search area and day, team members encountered rainy, windy, and rough sea conditions.” Agencies participating in the search included Cape Lookout National Seashore Rangers, Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID), United States Coast Guard, North Carolina Marine Patrol, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office Canine Team and Carteret County Sheriff’s Office.

Roman-Martinez, 21, was a native of Chino, California. His funeral services were held August 22.

A $25,000 reward has been offered for tips leading to an arrest and conviction in the case, the Army says. To date, no arrests have been announced.

Those with information should contact Army CID special agents at 910-396-8777, the Military Police Desk at 910-396-1179, submit information via or the Carteret County Dispatch office at 252-726-1911.



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